So yeah. That devolution thing happened you know.

22 Aug

If the last week of A-Level and GCSE results have taught us anything it is that UK network broadcasters still don’t get devolution.  The very idea of separate education systems clearly did not cross the minds of those reporting from London.

In response to last weeks A level results the @BBCBreaking account tweeted the following to its 10.9 million followers:

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The problem with this of course is that Wales had not seen a slight fall in its A* and A grades.  In fact the numbers of students receiving an A* grade in Wales was up by 0.7% while those achieving an A*-A grade result increased by 0.4%.  This blanket approach to UK results was inaccurate and presented a highly misleading picture of performance in Wales.

I did tweet the account to highlight the error, as did the BBC Wales Education Correspondent.  However, a week later when the GCSE results were published, it was evident lessons had not been learnt.  Again the @BBCBreaking account presented a UK reflection of results rather than recognising the different set of results attained by the different devolved education systems.

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On this occasion network BBC reported that Wales had achieved a 0.7% rise in pupils scoring A* to C grades in their GCSEs.  The reality was that in Wales the rise was 0.9% securing our best ever A*-C grade return.

I wouldn’t want to suggest that this was a uniqley BBC issue.  Sky News were also in on the act making the same mistake when tweeting its 1.25 million followers.

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I do want to state that BBC Wales did a very good job of covering the results from a Welsh perspective, as did ITV Wales.  I think a particular mention should go to the printed press who went into real detail in how they broke down the data and reported on a school by school and regional basis.

However the vast majority of people in Wales still get their news through a UK prism and so it is worrying that 15 years into the devolution process broadcasters still cannot appreciate the nuances of separate education structures.  Given the ever diverging nature of our education sectors will make it increasingly more difficult to make cross border comparisons it is something that really does need to be corrected.


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